Thursday, May 12, 2011

Does Size Matter?

While preaching on the Lectionary's Act text, which is what the Bishop has asked us to preach in the Great 50 Days leading up to conference, I stumbled upon a realization. During that first day of the church, actually the first hour, the church goes from the 12 disciples turned into apostles as the Holy Spirit is gifted to a mega-church. They were a small church, 12. After one sermon they become a mega-church, 3012.

I serve a small church, average worship around 84 a Sunday, nearing 100 on a good Sunday. We are not tiny, but we aren't what I would consider a medium sized church either. We are small. There are some great benefits to being a small congregation. Everyone knows everyone, which can be a downside too. There is a level of community and camaraderie that runs deep and has for generations. When welcomed into the fold it can feel like comfort food.

If we are using the early church as a model, should staying small always be our goal? Should our goal be to grow into a mega church and convert thousands of people?

I'm stuck and I'm torn. I love comfort food. I love my small church. But too much comfort food is bad for you and leads to bad habits and health problems. You can only have too much fried chicken before your arteries clog up and you die. You can only hold on to the church your great-great-grandfather built for so long. If you don't loosen your grip you will choke its source and die. The essence of being church is to be growing, but by how much?

This is not a new question but is one that has been bopping in my head. Should all churches seek to create converts like the early church? Should being a mega-church who then produce other congregations every every congregation's goal? If we are not growing are we being Church?

Would love to know your thoughts and feelings on the subject.

2 comments:

john said...

I wonder if Peter had in his mind that those 3,000 or so people were going to be converted. It seems like he recognized the opportunity to preach this powerful message and took advantage of it. And people responded!

It was a new message for them. The Gospel is often new to us, but in different ways. So, our growth, it seems, may come in other ways besides worship attendance growth, though that can happen, too. When we are committed to God's work growth happens in many different ways.

Thanks for the post. Stay blessed...john

Jim said...

I don't think Peter went out searching for 3000 converts. I agree, and like your point, that he took advantage of the situation. Then he simply told the story of Easter.

If more churches took that seriously and were poised and ready to take advantage of those opportunities I bet we would see growth in many different areas of Church Life. I would suggest though that for many churches their heads are in the dirt and they don't see those opportunities.

Thanks for the comment and for reading.